There was a “relentless” intensification of the climate crisis in 2020, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.
The coronavirus pandemic made the accelerating impacts of global heating even worse for millions of people. But the temporary dip in carbon emissions due to lockdowns had no discernible impact on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the WMO report said.
Last year was ranked as the hottest on record, in a tie with 2016 and 2019, despite the cooling effect of the cyclical natural climate phenomenon, La Nina. Without this, 2020 would most likely have been the hottest year yet. The decade 2011-20 was the hottest on record.
Extreme weather events broke records across the world, from hurricanes and cyclones in the US and India, heatwaves in Australia and the Arctic, floods in large parts of Africa and Asia, and wildfires in the US.
“All the key climate and impacts information in this report highlight relentless, continuing climate change, an increasing occurrence and intensification of extreme events, and severe losses and damage, affecting people, societies and economies,” said Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary general.